New Delhi: The river Ganga will be cleaned up 70-80% in the next three months and fully by March 2020, Nitin Gadkari, Union minster for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, said on Thursday.

Gadkari was addressing a gathering in New Delhi after the foundation stone laying event of 11 projects for Yamuna rejuvenation under the Namami Gange programme.

The announcement comes days before the beginning of the Ardh Kumbh Mela, which takes place every six years. Hundreds and thousands of pilgrims are expected to turn up for the event scheduled to be held in Allahabad between 15 January and 4 March 2019.

The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has taken up 11 projects under the Namami Gange programme to clean up the Yamuna in Delhi. Most projects are part of improved sewerage infrastructure that are at various stages of implementation. Under the Yamuna Action Plan III, new sewer lines will be built, and sewage treatment plants modernized across Delhi’s three drainage zones—Kondli, Rithala and Okhla.

Taking a serious note of the alarming levels of air and river pollution in the capital, Gadkari and Union minister for environment Harsh Vardhan said that there should be joint efforts by the state and the centre to adopt measures without politicizing the issue.

“Solid waste, liquid waste and air pollution have to be approached scientifically to address the issue," said Gadkari.

“This is a big step for cleanliness of Yamuna and also an important step for the federal structure of the country," said Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Kejriwal said that tackling air pollution and cleaning the Yamuna are two important agendas of the Delhi government.

With the National Capital Region turning into a gas chamber every year, especially between 20 October and 20 November, Kejriwal urged the neighbouring states to take pro-active steps in controlling stubble burning, which contributes significantly to the pollution in Delhi.

Gadkari suggested that instead of stubble being burnt by farmers in the adjoining states of Punjab and Haryana, it can be used to generate bio-fuel such as bio-ethanol, which would also help reduce pollution.

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